Yes, You Can Have Shelves in Pocket Door Cabinets

in Cabinets & Furniture

appliance garage Cabinets with pocket doors are more popular than ever these days. We use them to hide everything from small countertop appliances to washers and dryers to TVs and cable boxes.

In many cases the door conceals a single open space and the door(s) slide in beside or above whatever we’re trying to conceal.

But can you use them for cabinets with shelves – say in a pantry or a home entertainment centre?

No problem. You just have to allow space – a "pocket" – for the doors to retract into the cabinet and support the shelves with partitions within the remaining space.

Accuride flipper door slideWhat are pocket doors?

Pocket doors, flipper doors, hideaway doors, retractable doors – there are several common terms for these but they all essentially refer to a door that has hinges mounted to a special slide similar to a drawer guide. This special hardware lets you open the door 90 degrees and slide it back into the cabinet. You should always check the specifications, but many models will work in both vertical and horizontal applications.

The hardware

You’ll find a range of options available online but Accuride offers a full line of high quality pocket door hardware to meet just about any application from a simple appliance garage to heavy duty large-scale projects. Each door needs at least two guides – mounted at the top and bottom that are kept in-line with a cable or carrier strip to prevent racking.

pocket-door-cabinet-with shelves-interior Adding shelves

The illustrations show a small TV cabinet with adjustable shelves for the TV, PVR, DVD player, etc. The shelves are mounted on two vertical partitions that are shallower than the cabinet to allow for the thickness of the doors and a little extra. Depending on the specific hardware, you need  to leave a 2 – 2 1/2" wide pocket  on each side to accommodate the door and hinge hardware.

Be aware, the door hardware needs to be mounted on the cabinet gables BEFORE the partitions are installed to allow space for drilling and driving mounting screws.

Door width and cabinet depth considerations

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planning to use pocket doors. The relationship between the door width or height and the cabinet depth is critical.

pocket-door-cabinet-with shelves-door-openIf your cabinet is only 12" deep, an 18" wide door is not going to retract very far. Add to that the fact that the travel distance on the slide is about 4 1/2 inches LESS than the guide length due to the sliding mechanism at the back.

Here are some other factors:

Knobs and pulls – leave them off or use recessed pulls if you want the doors to fully retract within the cabinet depth. Otherwise plan for guides that will leave the door extended far enough to prevent the knobs from hitting the cabinet.

Doors must be inset within the face of the cabinet – not overlaying the top or bottom edges.

Wide openings could potentially use bi-fold doors mounted on pocket door hardware. I have seen cases where this has been done successfully. The main consideration would be to use heavy duty slides to carry the additional weight of the doors. The pocket width would also need to be wide enough to accommodate the folded door thickness plus any knobs or pulls attached.

There are lots of ways you can use pocket door hardware to achieve the look you’re after. Taking the time to do the proper planning will pay off in a great looking project that works the way you want it to.

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